Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Machine of Death

Machine of Death

I have been into the idea of this anthology project since I came across it in 2007. The website sells it as a collection of stories about people who know how they are going to die, and that is just what it is; character driven stories in a world where a machine that can predict your death exists. There are some great stories and some fantastic artwork between the covers of the book, and I have to say it is one of the best collections I have ever read. Personal favorites are Camille Alexa's Flaming Marshmallow, John Chernega's Almond, and M. Bennardo's Starvation, but there is not a single story that I didn't enjoy. If you haven't already purchased it, get on over there and buy it now!

The Idea

The idea of death prediction has been around for a long time. In the story of Oedipus the oracle predicted he would kill his father and marry his mother. In Heinlein's short story "Life-lines" Dr Hugo Pinero invents a machine that can predict when you are going to die. But what North, Bennardo and Malki! have done is to take that idea one step further, build on the myth, and make it their own by putting their own twist on the idea. And in the process it has become so much more than just an anthology. If you take a look at the website and click on the project status list on the navigation bar you will see how the idea has taken on a life of its own. There is a game, a talent show, prediction-by-mail programs, and even a photo contest. The Machine of Death idea has become a movement.


In 2007 I wrote a story called Karoshi. It was a story about how institutions deal with inappropriate death predictions. Karoshi is a Japanese word, which means Death from Overwork. My protagonist was a young, healthy Japanese woman called Yumi who enjoyed her job working in a government Baby Hatch, which was a place parents put their newborn babies if they had an 'inappropriate death prediction". The problem was that her employer found out her means of death and fired her. Their reason was that they did not want to be held responsible for her death. Tenacious to the end, Yumi took the local government to court and...well, you'll have to read the story yourself to find out the end. Even though it was rejected by genius editors Malki!, Bennardo, and North, it went on to find a home and win story of the year award at Strange Weird and Wonderful magazine. You'll find it under the new title A TEST OF FATE in the Fall 2008 edition.

Montagfire's Sword

In April this year I found out they were opening submissions for a second anthology. I was still reading the first anthology, and very impressed with it. Inspired, I decided that I wanted to be a part of the movement again. Even if my story was not accepted I wanted to participate in this event and broke myself out of a five month creative slump to write a story called "Montagfire's Sword" and I have to say that it was so much fun that it kickstarted my writing habit again. It's a story about a man who...no, I am not ready to share that with you. I still might have a chance in 1,958...

Here is a selection of the 1,958 titles that were submitted to the anthology. Look on the left hand side about halfway up for "The End". My story title, "Montagfire's Sword", is four lines up from that.

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